It is in your last sentence "It will have to be the latest who get the least compared to what they pay in." that lies the greatest challenge to phasing out social security.
Pushing the benefits back, and trimming benefits - both of which are being employed now - are one effective way of weaning the public off social security. This program is currently fully funded though, by those still in the job market. Even with tapered the pay-outs, social security demands higher and higher amounts of employment tax, creating a debt to those workers, while offering them less and less in return. Unquestionably, these later workers will bear the financial brunt of any gradual return to private responsibility.
I would personally expect that the long term solution is to gradually increase private retirement investment, while gradually decreasing the government tax-funded retirement 'ponzi' schemes.
I think that I might disagree with Tibor in one regard. There is justified concern in the government's assuming a "paternal" control over an individual's retirement planning. However, I am unconvinced that we - as individuals - are not harmed by those many of us that do not make any logical plans for funding their retirement. After all, that predilection is what spawned all these government programs in the first case, and a continued sense of irresponsibility would only spawn new generations of socialistic paternalism -by new generations of 'well-intended' people.
Knowing that it is important and smart to set aside personal funds for retirement is a lesson that each individual before us has learned, usually the hard way. Also important, I think, is knowing that in the end, in some form or fashion, we will somehow ultimately be forced to pay for these errors of others. There are charities, of course, that could help address the problem, but are unlikely to be sufficient. Given the proposition that we will - in all likelihood - (talking probability, not ethics here) be eventually forced to foot the bill, should we not require individual citizens take personal responsibility for their long term retirement needs. We expect them not to cross a busy street against a red light. This hard earned lesson is not so very different.
(Edited by Jay Abbott on 10/01, 3:49am)